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The Quick and the Dead

An inbound lead is as cold as a mother-in-law's kiss after 1 hour.
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30 Lessons from the 30 day HubSpot Blogging Challenge

hubspot sources.1.314Yesterday I published an article on the WittyParrot website about our experience and learnings from the 30 day HubSpot Blogging Challenge in January 2014. Below is an excerpt.

I joined WittyParrot as VP Marketing in July 2013 and recommended that WittyParrot use HubSpot for Inbound Marketing. 

There were no other candidates in our evaluation as I have been working with HubSpot for 5 years and have implemented it in 7 other technology companies. 

I did not need convincing of the underlying, technology, methodology or ROI on effort and investment… it works as advertised. 

We installed the software in July and began work on the new Website for the company launch in October.

We chose the HubSpot Enterprise system because we expect WittyParrot to scale rapidly and need the full functionality of the enterprise system from the start, even though we were starting from scratch.
When HubSpot announced the 30 day blogging challenge, we accepted the challenge as we were beginning to see the fruits of our early blogging effort with the direct correlation between a great blog and leads that followed.
Read the article in full ...

HubSpot 5 Year Review - The Best Keeps Getting Better.

hubspot trafficDecember 2013 marked the end of our 5th year as HubSpot customers and 4th year as HubSpot partners.  

You can read prior reviews here:
HubSpot Review Year 1
HubSpot Review Year 2
HubSpot Review Year 3 
HubSpot Review Year 4

I realize now that we were very early adopters of an important new paradigm in marketing and one from which there is no turning back, once the journey is begun.
2013 marked the year that inbound marketing “crossed-the-chasm” from the realm of the early adopter into the early majority in the cycle of adoption of discontinuous technology.
HubSpot, in 2008 had a few hundred customers and the product compared to today was crude and limited in function.

It was basic and unsophisticated, but perfectly functional for content creation and inbound marketing as it was then.  

Today HubSpot is a company of more than 400 employees, 10,000+ customers and more than 1000 partners. The product is unrecognizable from its early beginnings and leads the industry in functionality and usability.
In short, the product is a complete integrated tool-set for inbound marketing, which if used in conjunction with the HubSpot methodology will produce predictable and measurable results, a high ROI and a content legacy that will produce traffic and leads for years to come. 

There are no short-cuts to inbound marketing success. The product and the methodology works as advertised. The results are tangible, progress is visible – or otherwise.  

The chart shows our traffic and leads and sources for the past 5 years.

In May 2013, I began a marketing consulting with a sales and marketing messaging alignment project WittyParrot, an exciting new Bay Area technology company. You can download my new eBook Sales and Marketing Alignment, Content Capture and Reuse which is a result of that engagement on their new website; one of the first on the new Enterprise Hubspot COS, which went live in late October.

Most of my effort is now going into WittyParrot in the role of VP Marketing, which explains the drop in traffic on Admarco.

The first 100 days with WittyParrot have been astonishing and I will write about that in a different article.

Crossing the Chasm into an Avalanche of Content

5 years ago it was relatively easy to rank for long tail keywords, with search volumes less than 200 per month.
You didn’t have to be a rocket scientist to create optimized on-page SEO with HubSpot, it was common sense (and still is) with a well though-out set of keywords. We never spent a day building back-links, we bought into the quality content creation strategy and decided to let this drive our success.

If you wrote a solid article every week, followed the HubSpot methodology, it got read, tweeted and shared on LinkedIn and it was not unusual for a small business like ours to get 200-300 visits for an article and to rank for important keywords in a few weeks or months.
Publishing a new eBook or white paper could produce hundreds of downloads in a day.  

Five years later it is much harder to create content that ranks in Google.

It’s much harder to get people to read your stuff and download your Top of Funnel offers.

People are buried under an avalanche of content and most of its mediocre.

Quality is King

Content is no longer king, it’s suffocating me and I want to turn the volume off, or at least way down. 

Dr Mani’s brilliant article, published on the WittyParrot website, “whittle down and tune-in” highlights the problem and a solution.

Counter-intuitively, Dr. Mani suggests that smaller is better than big when it comes to social networks. 

That is you have to reduce the size of your social network to improve the quality of your interactions.  

I’m much more selective who I follow and what I read because there is so much of it coming past every day. 

I have no time for spammy email, I only read a few LinkedIn group postings and I’m very selective about the email open.
On content that I create, I strive to write original and thought provoking content and after 500 blog posts I’m getting better at writing.  

Quality is everything.
But this is old news.

Inbound Sales = Content + Context

HubSpot is leading the inbound sales movement in the same way they led the inbound marketing movement.
Buyers are most likely to be receptive to a conversation with a vendor/supplier when they are on your Website, when they are viewing a video or reading your content.   

Would you prefer, an in-context conversation with an informed salesperson who is offering help when you are actively engaged in exploring options? 

Or would you rather take a call from a sales closer who is trying to make their number this month, a week after you downloaded a white paper?  

Or perhaps an endless stream of canned email that someone has spent a lot of time in a marketing automation and designed for your “persona” hoping it will strike a chord? 
Download the guide to building highly responsive sales teams to find out more.

Real-time Signals
Responsive engagement in real-time in the buyer’s context seems intuitively to be a better strategy for engaging and facilitating buyers vs. programmatic canned responses.  

Signals is a new product incubated within HubSpot that facilitates real-time engagement, which is integrated with HubSpot, but is available as a stand-alone product.  

I tried Signals when it was released – and I could immediately see in real-time when someone opened my email or clicked on a link and watched a video or downloaded something.  

I was hooked on the product after a one-month free trial and gladly pay the $10 per month for the premium version.  

New Content Optimization System.

Hooray for the new CMS. The old one was a dog. I have not fully mastered the new COS yet, but its powerful, fast and positions HubSpot as a leader in terms of function and modularity and adaptive output… and did anyone mention it’s the fastest CMS out there?  

The Future

No doubt the content avalanche will continue and get bigger, but not better.  
HubSpot will continue to deliver tools that anticipate solutions to the problems and give us finer control over who and what we tune into.
I’m hoping to see the excellent HubSpot contacts system evolve more CRM functionality so that I can switch off system as it adds marginal value to HubSpot.  

The future belongs to the innovators who combine Responsiveness with Context and where their sales and marketing organizations deliver insight.  

HubSpot is setting a brisk pace for innovation and leading the transformation of the marketing industry.

The future is very bright for HubSpot and I’m glad to be a part of it.

One for the Golfers - George Peper's Guided Tour of St Andrews

the central bar, st andrewsThis is not a sales or marketing blog, but may be of interest to the golfers who read this column. I had the distinct pleasure of living in the home of golf, St Andrews, Scotland from 2003-2010 and count George Peper, featured in this video as one of my friends.

Here is the eloquent George Peper, editor of Links Magazine giving you a guided tour of the "Auld Grey Toon" of St Andrews... gives me a lump in my throat to watch this.

I agree with George, if you are a golfer and have not been to St Andrews, then you are missing one of the greatest experiences the game has to offer and for a father and son bonding experience, nothing beats it. (Best advice for mothers and daughters is head for Paris on the train when you land at Heathrow). 

I disagree with George on pubs however and rate The Central (below) as the best pub in the town and the champion "real ale" pub in Scotland... and you are bound to find a lot of locals (and students) here, to get some true Scottish atmosphere.

Tags: ,

Content is your Product - Marketing Content Capture & Reuse - Webinar

messagingContent is your product, the lifeblood of your organization, yet the core components used to create it are often either kicked around like trash or locked up where it cannot be shared. 

When up to 70% of content created by B2B marketing teams is never utilized by salespeople who waste up to 15 hours per week searching for and creating their own, isn't it time to look for new approaches?

Despite massive investment in sales enablement, buyers rate 9 out of 10 meetings with salespeople a waste of time. Salespeople are still struggling to engage buyers and articulate their value proposition in a way that sets them apart from competitors. (Forrester Research).

Sales and Marketing Messaging Alignment, Enrichment, Enablement

Disruptive innovation and proven sales and marketing alignment methods are breaking down sales and marketing silos that contribute to the above conditions. 

If you want to create a core value proposition that clearly captures your differentiation and to reuse it consistently across the company in your sales conversations and marketing messaging then please join us for our Webinar on Thursday 5th Dec. at 11.00AM PST.

In the Webinar we will discuss:
  • How to create and structure a value proposition aligned with buyer needs,
  • How to adapt and reuse value proposition content components to create website content, brand messaging, sales-ready messaging and customer-service conversations.
  • How WittyParrot, an intelligent content delivery platform, is used to create, manage and deliver the right content to create consistent communication and competitive advantage in the hands of marketers and salespeople.
Join us on Thursday 5th Dec. at 11.00AM PST for our Sales & Marketing Messaging Content Capture and Re-use Webinar.

CSO Insights 2014 Sales Performance Optimization Survey

cso logoIt's 2014 Chief Sales Officers (CSO) Insights Sales Performance Optimization survey time and this is your invitation to participate in one of the most comprehensive and useful surveys of sales behavior. 

Why bother? For 20 minutes of your time you will receive the most comprehensive sales behavior surveys in the industry. Results from previous research studies have been referenced by publications such as Harvard Business Review, Dow Jones, Wikipedia, Selling Power Magazine, and others.

2014 is all about revenue growth. Achieve this, and shareholder value will increase. Fail to do so, miss your number, and investors will punish you!

To help companies determine the right strategies to increase sales in the coming year, CSO Insights' 20th Sales Performance Optimization study will focus on four key themes:
  • Find More—by optimizing lead generation
  • Win More—by closing more forecast deals
  • Keep More—by minimizing customer churn
  • Grow More—by maximizing customer wallet share
The research report will retail for $795.

Be part of the research project and get the results early at no charge. As a special thanks, you will receive the CSO Insights Sales Performance Optimization 2013 Key Trends topical report which summarizes last year's report.

Please feel free to forward this to your colleagues whom you think would like to participate in order to paticipate in the surrvey and receive the 2014 CSO Insights Sales Performance Optimization Survey.

Click here to take the survey

What not to do on LinkedIn Groups - advice for sales and marketing

linkedin group publishingThis article is a warning and some sage advice from someone who has been burned by making some of the mistakes listed below.   

The industry is rife with consultants offering best practices on Linkedin and selling services around helping you get started and leveraging the power of the network. This is not one of those articles and I have nothing to sell.
I offer this free advice so that you can learn from my from experience.

This article will be of interest to anyone using Linkedin Groups and in particular the HubSpot Social Media Publishing capability.

HubSpot allows you to set up and automate social media publishing and monitor buzz for any number of keywords in an integrated fashion… it's great, it's powerful and it's convenient.  

LinkedIN groups are very useful as well, - if you can find the ones that are well controlled and where people you wish to influence are participating in the dialogue.  

The fact that HubSpot-Linked combination is so powerful and convenient comes with some warnings and a few things to consider when you start up.
Here are few simple rules to follow:
  1. When you set up social media in HubSpot and enter your Linkedin credentials, HubSpot will auto-populate all of your groups. Do not check all of your "Publish to the following groups as..." or "select all" buttons when you post an article in HubSpot. 
This is how to get blocked on LinkedIn with just one post.
  2. It’s OK to be a member of 40 groups, but as a rule your blog posts will be relevant to only a handful of groups. Therefore vary what you post according to the audience with highest interest/relevance.
  3. Quality, not quantity is the rule. 3-5 groups that you focus-on for a few minutes each per day, trumps 40 that you drive-by once a week. Think about it, what buyer is going to spend time on more that two or three groups? Your job is to figure out which ones they are.
  4. Don't post to Alumni groups unless it's relevant to the group;  e.g. you worked at say MicroStrategy and you post a story about your experience or a learning from working there.
  5. Whenever you post something to a group, you must add a comment, challenge or reason why you are posting it, so that it relates to the WiiFM antenna of group members.
  6. Many Linkedin groups are very spammy, much noisier than just a couple of years ago…. so being a member of a 40,000 member OPEN group may not give you as much clout as a 500 member group with the right audience, which is CLOSED and well controlled by moderators.
  7. The best way to engage on LinkedIn when getting started is to read and comment on others posts and ask questions…. Get the feel for the group before you post anything.
  8. Many LinkedIn groups are forum only groups and don't allow blogs or links. If you have something to ask they can be very useful and if your insights are helpful, people will check your profile and may visit your Website. If you post blogs in some of these groups, you will get a warning and if you reoffend will be ejected.
  9. First base on LinkedIn is to build reputation as someone with something of value to say with the audience and group administrators, -not to autopost everything you publish to your groups, unless it’s your own group. 
  10. It's perfectly OK to post other people's stuff in groups provided it's relevant and if it gives you an opportunity to add a comment that shows insight and will be of value to the group.
  11. Be aware that Linked is involved in a class action lawsuit of their own for their practice of emailing every contact you have ever sent or received mail from, when they offer to “invite your friends to connect” and you accept.
  12. Beware of trolls – certain groups have trolls that enjoy baiting, denigrating, criticizing and generally making a**holes of themselves. Do not engage and when it happens to you, flag it up to group owners.
  13. Do not download your first level contacts on LinkedIn and Spam them, unless you want them to hate you and disconnect. 
  14. Also please read this LinkedIn thread with informed comment on Spamming your first level contacts inside LinkedIn
  15. Finally, download this How to Use Social Media to Find New Leads Guide from HubSpot
I have been in LinkedIn Jail for over a year as I made the mistake of auto publishing into many groups when this feature was first release on HubSpot.

Very few groups allow me to publish my stuff (even if its fantastic) without it going into a moderation queue - from which it never leaves… unless I contact the group owner and ask them to publish it, which is a pain.

Big Changes for Mark Gibson & an Exciting Breakthrough

Ebook CTAI'm writing this blog because I want to update you on my current activity and share some very exciting news.

I have recently joined new Silicon Valley software company WittyParrot, as VP Marketing.

The new WittyParrot Website went live on the new HubSpot Enterprise COS last week... a great product!

Our HubSpot partnership and consulting business focusing on inbound marketing and sales and marketing messaging alignment will continue, delivering messaging alignment projects using the WittyParrot platform.

You have to see a short demo video of WittyParrot to understand what WittyParrot is and what it does, as it's quite disruptive.

WittyParrot has exciting potential for physically aligning marketing and sales messaging and to help companies speak with one voice. 
  • WittyParrot helps you collaboratively capture and maintain your Buyer Persona and Value Proposition in a Messaging Architecture hosted in WittyParrot.
  • WittyParrot enables marketers and sales enablement teams to share messaging chunks of any size or type and enrich it in sales ready messaging.
  • Crucially, WittyParrot enables salespeople to find the content they need in a couple of clicks and to simply drag and drop it into their application, email, or document to use it.
  • It has potential to free-up an hour a day of marketers and salespeople's time spent searching for and editing information to use in email and customer communication.
  • WittyParrot protects and amplifies the brand message as everyone shares and uses the same underlying messaging chunks.
  • It provides salespeople the supporting information they need for inbound sales to respond to inbound marketing leads in real-time and to enable responsive follow-up, so their emails will get read and acted on.
Download the eBook Building Highly Responsive Sales Teams

Please connect with me on LinkedIN and join our LinkedIn Responsive Sales Enablement group.

The Need for Speed in Inbound Sales

Ebook CTALately I have changed my strategy in responding to inbound leads, where a contact exchanges their contact details in return for an offer of an eBook, Whitepaper or Webinar on my Website.

I now make best efforts to respond to an inbound leads inside 5 minutes of receiving it. So far I have been able to reach 80% of contacts directly on the phone if I call within the first 10 minutes. I'm having at least an order of magnitude more constructive conversations with prospective customers than using my prior approach.

I wrote two blogs on this subject in the past week: -
The Quick and the Dead: Why Responsiveness Matters in Sales featured on the HubSpot Website.
The other, Responsiveness and the Dawn of a New Era in Sales Enablement featured on the WittyParrot site.

If you are interested in your team speaking with more leads to initiate more conversations and to improve the number of qualified leads in your pipeline, then I recommend reading both articles.

In the meantime you may find our Building Highly Responsive Sales Teams  eBook of value.


Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, a book review

jobs bioWhen I was a boy growing up in South Australia, I distinctly remember the day the news broke that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated. I remember it because after I heard the news I began to cry. 

I was 11 years old and to this day I don't know why I cried. I knew nothing of American politics and I had only seen scant television clips of the President on one of the 3 stations on the TV, that broadcast from 4.30PM till station close at 11PM. I knew he was a great man however and admired by Australians and my school teachers.

When Steve Jobs announced that he was resigning from Apple in August 2011, I knew the end was near for the great man and I felt a lump in my throat. The day after his death, I was walking in Pebble Beach and I met a neighbor. We stopped chatted for a few minutes and Steve Jobs death came up in conversation and we both started crying. Steve Jobs was a great man, whether you liked him or not.

I never met Jobs, but I knew about Apple, having owned a Mac a couple of years after they were introduced. Stories of his unusual behavior were already legend in Silicon Valley when I moved here with Sun MicroSystems in 1991. Sun Microsystems kept close tabs on what Jobs was doing with NeXT as the Sun UNIX workstation began it's meteoric rise.  

I listened to the Walter Isaacson Steve Jobs biography over a couple of weeks on my commutes to the WittyParrot office in Bay Area, (I am an investor in and advisor to WittyParrot, a new Silicon Valley Software company) and was riveted by the story and the storytelling skill of Isaacson.  

When I arrived at the office I would share the latest insights I had gleaned from listening to the Jobs story with the design team at WittyParrot and I sent several emails with condensed insights and suggestions on the design and out-of-box experience.  

For entrepreneurs, designers and engineers, the Steve Jobs biography is a case study in the importance of thinking outside-the-box, simplicity and elegance in design, and execution.  

From the numerous true anecdotes throughout the book, it is clear that Jobs was a tyrannical leader, ripping subordinates to shreds and firing people summarily. He did however build a team of “A” players who were extremely loyal and believed in the Jobs Apple mission… which was to change the world.  

His reality distortion field influenced and inspired others to do what was previously thought impossible. He would look subordinates in the eye with an unblinking stare and exclaim “this is shit” on being show work or programing that was less than breathtaking, to see if they believed it was less then their best.  

Steve Jobs changed our lives in the same way Edison did a hundred years earlier. He was inventor like Edison, with more than three hundred patents in his name and like Edison, he was a visionary. Jobs obsession with creating technology products that incorporated art in their design gave us products that redefined the look and feel of consumer electronics and computer retailing.  

Every reader of this article has been touched by the experience of using Apple products. It’s worth recalling the breakthrough products that Jobs and Apple gave us, here are a few that changed the World:-
  • Apple-2 one of the first mass produced personal computers.
  • Apple Lisa and Macintosh, Mac - the computer for the rest of us, which heralded a new era of computing and introduced the GUI, the mouse and beautiful fonts
  • iPod, - a thousand songs in your pocket
  • iTunes – a new spin on music
  • iPhone – The Internet in your pocket
  • iPad – "The iPad is…”
  • Apple Stores– the most profitable stores on the planet
  • The App Store - More than a thousand apps. One simple new way to get them
  • Pixar Animation – Toy Story and many others.
Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography is a riveting account of a life fully lived and of a great man who changed the World and is a “must read” for anyone in the technology business. 

The Highs and Lows of Business Travel - and what you can do about it.

While this story is not strictly about business travel, it's very relevant to business travellers and I thought it worth sharing.

My wife and I had been undecided as whether to attend a winetasting in Santa Barbara, CA. this weekend and made a late decision to go. At the last minute,  accommodation options in Santa Barbara were very limited and we made a booking for Saturday evening through the Extended Stay America hotel website direct on Thursday.  

My wife received email confirmation of the booking on her cellphone on the dates she had booked, but she did not open the email on her desktop email system that indicated that the hotel was booked for Thursday-Friday. Neither did she check to see if there was a booking confirmation number on her cellphone email  

After a 4 hour drive and afternoon of wine tasting, we were looking forward to a restful stay at our hotel a few miles from the winetasting venue. The first inkling that there could be a problem was when we got to the hotel desk and heard the clerk advising a couple that there was no availability and that everything in Santa Barbara was sold out.  

Our turn at the desk came and I got that sinking feeling when the clerk began questioning us to the possible names the booking was made under and asked if we had a reservation number. My wife opened her cellphone email and found the booking for Saturday evening, but there was no confirmation number. On her desktop email, the booking was confirmed for Thursday and Friday on the day she made the booking. Clearly there was a problem with the booking.  

At this point we have two options, either get mad at the clerk and vent our frustration and demand that they solve the problem on the spot, or call the hotel company and get mad at them and demand that they solve the problem while we fume on the phone, threatening never to use their services again and slagging them off on social media. 

The other alternative is to shrug your shoulders and say bummer, - and begin to create options for yourself to solve the problem that don’t involve you becoming enraged and upsetting others.
While my wife was on the phone with Extended Stay, I chose the latter and asked the clerk for a Wi-Fi password and began looking at alternatives. After a few minutes we found a hotel 30 minutes up the road we had already traveled and made a snap booking as there were very few available options remaining.

We spent the night in a Motel-6, not our first choice for accommodation, but it was the last room within a 30 minute drive. We had a good night’s sleep in a room that was clean, where the beds firm, but comfortable and we got a $10 discount on the room… whoopee!  

This morning in one of our favorite breakfast places, Andersen’s in Santa Barbara, we had another encounter that we have all seen played-out badly in restaurants.

We arrived at the restaurant at 10AM, were served coffee and juice and our orders taken. The food was taking a long time coming and a clue that there might be a problem was when the people sitting next to us, who came 10 minutes after us, were served their breakfast. Bummer

I inquired as to the whereabouts of our breakfast and the hostess gave us a curt “this is Sunday morning” reply. Fair enough I thought, it’s a busy place and the food is worth waiting for. However it was now 10.45 and still no food. A few minutes later our curt hostess came back to our table and apologized that our order in fact had gotten lost. Bummer
Meanwhile the people next to us were paying their bill.

I was getting a little impatient and could easily have made a scene, passed a rude comment and stormed off; but that would only upset me, the staff and immediate patrons and we would still be 30 minutes away from breakfast. Finally the food arrived at 11AM and we were advised that everything would be complimentary. Whoopee.  

Our curt hostess asked if we liked champagne and returned with two glasses… the Sun was over the yardarm somewhere. Whoopee.    

I reflected on this experience and recall a humorous talk I had heard from Tim Gard five years earlier at the Professional Speakers Association annual conference in London.  

He spoke about the highs and lows of business travel and the potential for things to go wrong – often and right occasionally. The point of his talk was that things will go wrong, it’s how we react to them that sets the tone for the remainder of the encounter or trip. His advice, when things go wrong – shrug your shoulders, say bummer and move on. When things go right, click your heels, say whoopee and be grateful for the break. Tim was no doubt influenced by Viktor Frankl.
Viktor Frankl wrote in “Man’s Search for Meaning” that human beings are the only species with the freedom to choose how they will react in any situation through the exercise of our free will. Life will present many challenges, but our power to shape our response to the challenges determines our attitude and ultimately shapes our experience. His insights came from his experience in surviving the Dachau concentration camps in WW2, when all those that he loved, save for his sister, perished.  

Summary and Take-aways:

  1. Always check to ensure your booking is for the correct dates and that you have a reservation number when you receive email confirmation of an Internet travel or accommodation booking.
  2. In business travel and in life things will go wrong, it’s how we react to them that sets the tone for the rest of the event.
  3. If things go wrong – say "bummer" and begin to create options to solve the problem instead of getting mad.
  4. If things go right and you get that room upgrade or last seat in business-class, click your heels, do a little dance and say "Whoopee"!
  5. If you haven’t yet read Man’s Search for Meaning, it could be time you did.

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